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110 Years of Studio Babelsberg - The World's Oldest Film Studio Combines Tradition and Innovation

Studio Babelsberg will be celebrating its 110th anniversary on 12 February, 2022. The world's oldest large-scale film studio is now one of Europe’s leading production centers. Film history was written in Babelsberg and the studio continues to set standards for the production of German and international films and series. Thanks to cutting-edge studio and production technologies, Babelsberg is widely acknowledged as a driver of innovation in the field of film production.

On 12 February, 1912, shooting began on the silent film THE DANCE OF DEATH (DER TOTENTANZ) starring Asta Nielsen at the so-called "Small Glasshouse" in Babelsberg – this marks the birth of Studio Babelsberg. Since then, the studio has lived through five political systems, constantly had an influence on technological change in the film industry, and been behind countless films, including such important and successful productions as METROPOLIS, THE BLUE ANGEL (DER BLAUE ENGEL), THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US (DIE MÖRDER SIND UNTER UNS), INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS or THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.

Charlie Woebcken, CEO Studio Babelsberg AG: "110 years of Studio Babelsberg are synonymous with both the history and future of cinema. Of course, we are now focusing on looking to the future and are very excited about the current rapid development of the film production landscape and the emergence of previously undreamed-of creative possibilities. We are looking forward to also playing a role in writing this next successful chapter of the historic location."

Christoph Fisser, COO of Studio Babelsberg AG: "Even with 110 years of tradition under our belt, it still holds true that success has to be permanently earned through hard work. Studio Babelsberg is one of the leading film studios in Europe and we need to make sure that it stays that way by working with new and proven partners, with creativity, fun, joy and passion for cinema, and with a great openness to new ideas and technologies."

The studio’s chequered history begins on 12 February, 1912 with the first day of shooting for Urban Gad's silent film THE DANCE OF DEATH. Studio Babelsberg is thus regarded as the cradle of German cinema and soon becomes the center of the internationally recognized Weimar cinema. In 1926, the large-scale sound stage – now known as the "Marlene Dietrich Halle" – is purpose-built for Fritz Lang's major film production METROPOLIS. Construction in 1929 of the "Tonkreuz" in Babelsberg as the first European sound film studio lays the foundation for the studio’s ongoing tradition as a leader in innovation. After the National Socialists come to power in 1933, Nazi propaganda and light entertainment films such as MÜNCHHAUSEN or DIE FEUERZANGENBOWLE are produced here under the supervision of the "Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda". Numerous filmmakers such as Josef von Sternberg, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder and stars like Marlene Dietrich leave Germany. As early as 1946, the cameras start rolling in the war-ravaged studios for Wolfgang Staudte's THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US with Hildegard Knef. DEFA (Deutsche Film AG) is founded in the same year. The studio becomes the exclusive location for feature film production in the GDR. More than 700 feature films, 750 animated films and 2,250 documentaries and short films are made on the Babelsberg studio lot between 1946 and 1990. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former DEFA film studios in Babelsberg become the property of the French group Compagnie Générale des Eaux (today: Vivendi Universal) which invests approx. 250 million Euros in the studio lot in the following years. In 2004, the present management of Dr. Carl Woebcken and Christoph Fisser take over the studio, converting it into a stock corporation in 2005.

Since privatization in 1992, numerous German and international feature films have been made in Babelsberg, including THE PIANIST (2002), V FOR VENDETTA (2005), THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007), THE COUNTERFEITERS (2007), THE INTERNATIONAL (2009), THE READER (2009), Quentin Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009), George Clooney's THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014), THE HUNGER GAMES - MOCKINGJAY (2014), Steven Spielberg's BRIDGE OF SPIES (2015) or the films of Wes Anderson, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014), ISLE OF DOGS (2018), and THE FRENCH DISPATCH (2021).

In the last 20 years, Studio Babelsberg productions received 48 nominations at the Academy Awards and were awarded a total of 15 Oscars in different categories: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (four Oscars), THE PIANIST, THE COUNTERFEITERS, THE READER or BRIDGE OF SPIES.

With the fifth season of HOMELAND, the first international high-end series comes to Babelsberg in 2015. More and more serial formats and productions for streaming services follow in the subsequent years, including BERLIN STATION (2016-2019), SENSE8 (2015), COUNTERPART (2017-2018), BABYLON BERLIN (since 2017), DARK (2017-2020), FOUNDATION (2021) or 1899 (in production).

Most recently, UNCHARTED (2022) starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg and the fourth installment of the MATRIX series, THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (2021), directed by Lana Wachowski, were produced in Babelsberg. Recently completed films include JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4, THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER and RETRIBUTION.

As a central part of the Media City Babelsberg and MediaTech Hub Potsdam, the studio has always been a pioneer for new technological developments. In 2018, for instance, the first volumetric studio on the European mainland (Volucap), is built with the participation of Studio Babelsberg. The circular studio, equipped with 32 high-resolution cameras, enables innovative VR and AR projects. In 2021, the DARK BAY Virtual Production Stage is opened on the studio lot by the partners DARK WAYS and Studio Babelsberg. It is one of Europe's largest permanently installed LED studios for virtual film production. Instead of the green/blue screen and a complex post-production process, digital backgrounds can now be created in advance as a 3D world and displayed on the LED wall in real time for filming. The Netflix series 1899 is the first project to be filmed using the new technology.

At the beginning of 2022, the equity investment platform TPG Real Estate Partners acquired a majority stake in Studio Babelsberg. Studio Babelsberg will operate as an independent brand within the global studio platform Cinespace and benefit from its resources and the international network. Current CEO Charlie Woebcken and COO Christoph Fisser will remain on the board of directors, holding a minority stake in the company.

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Studio Babelsberg's management team is available for interviews.

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Bianca Makarewicz

Head of Corporate Communications

P. +49 331 721 21 33
F. +49 331 721 21 35

 
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